Reduction in SNAP Benefits Will Put Additional Demand on Kane County Food Pantries
Kane County Connects Staff 2/14/2023 8:00AM
Families who qualify for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will see a reduction in benefits beginning in March 2023, which is expected to exacerbate demand on Kane County food pantries that are already stretched thin by the pandemic and inflation.
Dr. Michael Montgomery, Executive Director of Food for Greater Elgin, told a recent meeting of the Kane County Board’s Executive committee that some food pantries have been forced to meet the high demand for food by cutting the geographic area they serve, increasing fundraising efforts or going dairy-free.
“The soaring food costs affect us as well. We’re not getting as much free stuff as we used to get,” he said. “It’s $3,000 a month we’re spending on milk, even with the various benefit packages that we have.”
SNAP benefits help low-income individuals and families to buy the food they need. Since April 2020, all Illinois SNAP households received SNAP emergency allotments, in addition to their regular monthly benefit, to help manage food insecurity.
Due to a recent federal policy change, SNAP emergency allotments are ending February 28, 2023. The allotments were an additional minimum $95 to $250 to each household's monthly benefits.
In addition to the SNAP emergency allotments being cut, Montgomery said other factors will add to the increased demand on food pantries this year. “In January social security rates went up for seniors; that was good news but it also meant that SNAP benefits for seniors dropped because of their change in income.”
In addition, all families will have to re-certify for benefits in May, and Montgomery predicts that some families will either not be able to complete the recertification process or be denied because of a change in income.
“There is a SNAP gap between your eligibility for SNAP and the amount of money the feds think you really need to provide food for your family.”
Food for Greater Elgin served a weekly average of 400 families in January 2021, 700 families in January 2022 and 800 in January of 2023.
“The first week of February we’re going to pass 900 families coming through our doors so this trend is not reducing for ourselves or anyone else,” accorrding to Mongomery
SNAP customers are encouraged to visit abe.illinois.gov or call the IDHS Helpline at 1-800-843-6154 and update information including a change of address, increase in housing costs, or decrease in income, to receive the maximum benefits for which they are eligible.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank is also offering help to understand the changes in the SNAP program.